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Fishing Key Largo and the Backcountry of the Everglades National Park

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The Fishing...
Tarpon, Permit, Grouper, Snapper and Dolphin are just minutes away on the ocean side of Key Largo.

In the backcountry of the Everglades National Park, it's lots of Trout, tailing Reds, feisty Snook and rolling Tarpon.  It's miles of mangrove shoreline all the way to East Cape past Flamingo.  There are simply hundreds of coves and bays and most of them are in mere inches of water.

If you want to experience sight fishing from a custom flats/bay skiff, then this is the shallow water angling experience for you. 


Snook

Family Centropomidae, SNOOKS
Centropomus undecimalis

The Florida records quoted are from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.
Description:  Distinct lateral line; high, divided dorsal fin; sloping forehead; large mouth, protruding lower jaw; grows much larger than other snooks; pelvic fin yellow.  Where Found:  From central Florida south, usually INSHORE in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings NEARSHORE.
Similar Fish:  Other Centropomus. Remarks:  Spawns primarily in summer; cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees F; can tolerate wholly fresh or saltwater; schools along shore and in passes during spawning season; feeds on fish and large crustaceans.
Size:  Most catches 5 to 8 pounds.
Florida Record:  44 lbs., 3 oz.

Redfish

Family Sciaenidae, DRUMS
Sciaenops ocellatus

The Florida records quoted are from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.
Description:  Chin without barbels; copper-bronze body, lighter shade in clear waters; one to many spots at base of tail (rarely no spots); mouth horizontal and opening downward; scales large. Where Found:  Juveniles are an INSHORE fish, migrating out of the estuaries at about 30 inches (4 years) and joining the spawning population OFFSHORE.
Similar Fish: Black drum, Pogonias cromis. Remarks:  Redfish are an INSHORE species until they attain roughly 30 inches (4 years), then migrate to join the NEARSHORE population; spawning occurs from August to November in NEARSHORE waters; feeds on crustaceans, fish, and mollusks; longevity to 20 years or more.
Size:   Common to 20 pounds.
Florida Record: 51 lbs., 8 oz.

Tarpon

Family Elopidae, TARPONS
Megalops atlanticus

The Florida records quoted are from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.
Description:  Last ray of dorsal fin extended into long filament; one dorsal fin; back dark blue to green or greenish black, shading into bright silver on the sides; may be brownish gold in estuarine waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward. Where Found:  Primarily INSHORE fish, although adult fish spawn OFFSHORE where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish can be found.
Similar Fish:  (as juveniles) ladyfish, Elops saurus. Remarks:  Slow grower; matures at 7 to 13 years of age; spawning occurs between May and September; female may lay more than 12 million eggs; can tolerate wide range of salinity; juveniles commonly found in fresh water; can breathe air at surface; feeds mainly on fish and large crustaceans.
Size:  Most angler catches 40 to 50 pounds.
Florida Record:  243 lbs.

Spotted Seatrout

Family Sciaenidae, DRUMS
Cynoscion nebulosus

The Florida records quoted are from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.

Description:  Dark gray or green above, with sky-blue tinges shading to silvery and white below; numerous distinct round black spots on back, extending to the dorsal fins and tail; no barbels; no scales on the soft dorsal fin; one or two prominent canine teeth usually present at tip of upper jaw.

Where found:  INSHORE and/or NEARSHORE over grass, sand, and sandy mud bottoms; move into slow-moving or still, deep waters in cold weather.

 

Similar Fish:  Other seatrout.

Remarks:  Matures during first or second year and spawns INSHORE from March through November, often in association with seagrass beds; lives mainly in estuaries and moves only short distances; adults feed mainly on shrimp and small fish; prefers water temperatures between 58 and 81 degrees F, may be killed if trapped in shallow water during cold weather; longevity 8 to 10 years.

Size:  Common to 4 pounds on west coast, larger on east coast.
Florida Record:  15 lbs., 6 ozs.

Permit

Family Carangidae, JACKS & POMPANOS
Trachinotus falcatus

The Florida records quoted are from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.

Description:  Color gray, dark or iridescent blue above, shading to silvery sides, in dark waters showing golden tints around breast; small permit have teeth on tongue (none on pompano); no scutes; dorsal fin insertion directly above that of the anal fin; 17 to 21soft dorsal rays; 16 to 19 soft anal rays.

Where found:  OFFSHORE on wrecks and debris, INSHORE on grass flats, sand flats, and in channels; most abundant in south Florida, with smaller specimens from every coastal county.

Similar fish:  Florida pompano, T. carolinus; the permit is deeper bodied; dorsal body profile forms angle at insertion of second dorsal fin; pompano rarely grow larger than 6 pounds, permit common to 40 pounds.

Remarks:  Feeds mainly on bottom-dwelling crabs, shrimp, small clams, and small fish.

 

Size:  Common to 25 pounds.

Florida Record:  51 lbs., 8 ozs.